Pranaam to my beloved Shri Hari and revered Swamiji 🙏
Jai Shri Hari 🙏
Since childhood I have been a Shiva devotee. Never in my dreams did I think that my heart will be filled with so much love and devotion towards Shri Hari and a Swami.. How they have changed my life for better. As any other human, I have also gone through my share of terrible times, not once, not twice but many times. I had lost all hopes, I had stopped smiling. Mother of a child, lost bhakta and lost human being too. I was just a walking ghost, surviving each day. And then one day, an angel, is what I would like to call her, Rekha, my neighbour, whom I came to know because of our kids going in the same school and same bus, asked me if I would like to go for walks with her, as part of exercise routine. I said sure. So, started the routine of daily walks, slowly we started talking about things here and there. And I don’t remember why and when, she told me about how she came to know about a Swami and his ashram called Shri Badrika Ashram. This was in August 2019. Initially I was skeptical, but she would tell me so much about what all Swamiji did for others, other’s experiences and his miracles, that somewhere somehow I started believing in Swamiji, without my knowledge. I have been waiting for a guru to guide me, from a long time, I used to think that sages and saints were a concept of the past, that they didn’t exist anymore. Then I read Swamiji’s book ‘If Truth Be Told’, saw Swamiji’s small thumbnail size photo. I was touched with this book, his honesty, the fact that he shared his struggles, while usually we only see higher than mighty kind of saints, he felt different and for real. I decided to know more about him. Then I read Sadhvi Vrinda ji’s Prayer That Never Fails and The Book of Faith. Any doubts that I had about him flew away. I started feeling like wanting to meet Swamiji. I wanted Swamiji to know that I existed and he did. It was a different experience. After that, I started with meditation. Started using Black Lotus app. I started feeling better, calmer and happier. I didn’t want to meet Swamiji yet though, because I didn’t feel worthy of meeting him. I meditated continuously for 200+ days had some experiences that I can’t explain, but I know that Swamiji knows. I did chanting too. Then took a break after one such experience, silly me.
Then, December 2021, Shri Hari decided it was time for me to visit him. It was a sudden decision or thought. I decided I want to or rather I need to see Swamiji and Shri Hari. I didn’t have enough money in hand at that time, I was worried how will I manage to do everything. How will I leave my child here and go. But trust me, I don’t know how, money was arranged, my mother helped me, my son was taken care of, my husband helped me ( didn’t expect this at all). Then I registered for the event, decided I will go to Ashram on 24th December and come back to Bangalore on 26th December. After I registered for the event, I booked stay for me and my father. He decided to come with me because he didn’t want to send me alone to some ashram so far. Anyways, I tried booking flight tickets and after multiple attempts I couldn’t, I was in tears. I thought is it not time yet for me to go? Then after hours of stress, heartache and tears, I said I leave it to Swamiji now. Next day tried again, without thinking anything, just for me to see if it’s going forward, and just like that my tickets got booked for 24th Dec and return 26th Dec. I was so surprised, I was on clouds. So after buying lot of warm clothes for December winters of Himachal and asking hundreds of questions to my friend, I was finally mentally ready for this new experience. Please note, I have hardly stepped out since March 2019 because of Corona, so this was big for me. I started from my home in Bangalore at 12.30 am on 24th December and reached airport at 1:30 am ish. Hugged my son, said bye to him and entered the airport still unsure of how things will unfold. Journey started for Shri Badrika Ashram. It was connecting flight so had a stop at Delhi airport. Before leaving from home for Bangalore airport, I had prayed to God that plz let everything go smoothly and it did. I was tired like anything, sleep deprived, food deprived reached Chandigarh airport. Found Ajay ji, went to the cab and found that there was a co passenger. We introduced each other, I came to know her name was Naina ji. That was a pleasant surprise because I thought I would have to travel alone. I was not worried though because I believe in Swamiji so much. We ate small lunch from a hotel. Then started again, I started feeling a bit uneasy, but the kachcha road to ashram brought me out of all my sickness.. wow! I thought this must be some kind of test by Swamiji ,😁😁 whoever crosses this path, has passed the test and Swamiji will grace them 😁 out of fear many poetic lines started coming in my mind, like ‘Ashram Jana hai, kachcha khatarnak rasta chadhke utarke jana hai!! (On the tunes of, ek aag ka dariya hai, aur doobke jana hai) 😁😁I was so scared the whole way, I tried to think that the driver is now Swamiji and that I will be fine. It worked for few minutes, but the moment edge came closer, I was like, no not working. It was so funny. Just when I thought ok it must be over now, came a board showing, Shri Badrika Ashram 5kms and I said ‘not cool Swamiji’.
Naina ji, turned out to be such a big help for me, because I didn’t know anything, and she pretty much knows everything about ashram. We reached the Ashram at 4 pm. I shared room with Naina ji. It was not what I expected, the room was too good and the facilities, by the last day I said in my heart, thank you to every single person who is in this ashram and who donates to this Ashram, because they help people like me so much, selflessly. I don’t know how I would have survived the winter there without the heater, hot water and heat function of AC and the thick blankets. My humble gratitude to one and all who donate generously to the Ashram. I was so happy to have reached Ashram, Naina ji guided me all along. I had to hurry because I received email previous night confirming my first personal meeting with Swamiji. So that was the only thing in my head. I took bath hurriedly, dried my hair, decided quickly what to wear and ran. Asking others for directions, because ashram was like a maze to me and I was the maze runner 😁 I had dinner too I think, not sure though. I went to temple, my eyes met with Shri Hari and that’s it, I stood there for a few seconds soaking in his grace, admiring him 💕 I sat down right at the centre, near the middle carpet, spread for Swamiji. I had no idea of the significance of where I was seated, until I realised that I was sitting exactly where Swamiji would walk in from. Before starting from Bangalore, thanks to Rekha I came to know a few people by their names and I was asking help from them if I needed any. That is how I came to know Meera Om and Sarang Om. I wanted to know who they were and if they were sitting there. I thought in my mind if Swamiji could come and take attendance like in school time, I would know who is Meera ji and who is Sarang. Just then Rajiv ji came and said that he was going to announce the names of those in group meeting and then those who are in personal meeting. During annoucement, came the name of Sarang in group meeting and to my surprise, he was sitting right across, I was like what? Then when my name came I raised my hand and he came know too that Shobha is me. We greeted each other, I laughed because of the all the coincidences. I was right infront on my knees when Swamiji walked in, waiting for Swamiji to look at me once and finally, he looked at me and I was like yay! Swamiji saw me (in my mind of course). Swamiji started with his discourse, Q&A, I was just staring at him, not a single word went in my head, I was having my fan moment 😁 I felt like I used to watch my favourite TV show everyday and that day suddenly I was in that show. It was too much but loved every bit of it. I was trying so hard to see Swamiji, because I was sitting infront of Shri Hari and Swamiji was sitting on my right side but a bunch of equipments came in between my view, so I would dangle like a pendulum while Swamiji was talking. Then at the end came arti time, I heard the conch and every single cell in my body started vibrating, that is how I felt, it was so strong and profound, it happened three times. Then Swamiji sang arti and we followed. Swamiji spoke about time limit and asked us to ask precise questions, don’t know why I felt like he was talking to me because my questions were not ready. I thought I was, but as soon as Swamiji said that ask what is most important to you, everything I had thought went out of my mind.
I was waiting outside the meeting room, during which I met another important person, and I am her big fan too, Sadhvi Vrinda ji. She was sitting around the firepit, with others in a circle. Without realising who she was I stood right behind her, to get some heat from the fire. I saw her from behind, her head was covered with her shawl, I remembered that shawl so I asked person next to me, if this was Sadhvi Vrinda ji and she said yes. I was like wow! Is this happening really? Just then Sadhvi ji turned to greet someone, and I also greeted her, she greeted me too and I folded my hands and told her ‘big fan here’. She smiled and greeted me again. I asked her if this was the same firepit where Swamiji controlled the fire and she said no that was different, made with just four bricks and some wood. But she said that this firepit was also sacred because Swamiji did mantra chanting here as well. I was happy that I asked that, because I along with others didn’t know about this fact.
Then I went near meeting room to see if it was my turn. I was surprised and excited that Swami Vidyanand ji called out my full name while coming out of Swamiji’s room. I am a huge fan of Swami Vidyanand ji too ever since I heard his Vishnu sahastranamam, I love his singing and voice. He is such a gifted singer and an ardent disciple of Swamiji. I wish I could learn something from him, if not anything else, then atleast to surrender like he did. Anyways, so I went inside meeting room, as I stepped in I saw Swamiji already smiling and greeting me, I said pranaam to Swamiji, went on my knees touched the floor with my forehead where he and Ma walked, and paid my respects. And I told him, Swamiji I feel like a toddler with runny nose sitting infront of her mother 😁😁 my nose was really runny because of cold.. Swamiji laughed. I said Swamiji I don’t know how to behave infront of you and he said ‘you are doing just fine’ and he laughed gently. I asked him something, he answered, then I asked one personal question but I don’t remember what he said about that, I don’t know why. I wanted to know more but then came the knock, my time was up, I literally asked Swamiji, is the time up, and Swamiji nodded in agreement, I said ‘ok Swamiji’, did pranaam and left. I was not sure about what happened inside, it was like I was in a haze or something. I wasn’t happy or satisfied completely. I wanted to hear him more, I didn’t understand what and why Swamiji said what he said. There was a moment when I doubted Swamiji and I felt so bad and guilty, how could I doubt Swamiji? Anyways, after thinking for a long time, tossing n rolling in bed whole night, I apologized to Swamiji and Shri Hari in my mind for doubting Swamiji. 25th Dec, morning when I woke up, I was better than the previous night. I wanted to attend Vishnu sahastranamam, I got ready, was 15 minutes late so I ran, when I stepped out, it was so dark. It was so cold, and I am the champion of forgetting directions, I lost my way, didn’t know where I was, so I went back to my room. I told Naina ji that I lost my way. She told me the way again, so I started from my room, by that time it was too late Vishnu sahastranamam was over. Then I met Sarang, I asked him if he could attend the Vishnu sahastranamam and he said that it got over early. So we went to Shri Hari temple, attended arti and then we went for breakfast. Had breakfast, stood under the sun with others for sometime. Later he showed me all the places in the Ashram because I kept getting lost. He showed me Swamiji’s place too. I met many new people. Bought some books and rudraksha mala for my son, as he had requested one and rudraksh bracelet for him and me. I was still a bit down about what had happened in the meeting, so I told Sarang how I felt bad that I doubted Swamiji and he said many people go through this and that it was ok. He said it will get better, this was my first time and that some people still struggle infront of Swamiji so I should not worry much. I spoke to more of my new friends in Ashram slowly things started to get clearer. I remembered we understand things when it’s time for us to understand. I decided to follow what Swamiji had said. I was expecting Swamiji to tell me, you do this now, next you do this, but that is not what he said. Swamiji asked me to read one of his books and follow the steps to achieve what I had requested him. I wanted to go to Giriganga and Sarang helped me with that too. I drank a little water, as it’s a scared river. The sound of gusting water was so serene and peaceful, such clear water.. for me it was the first time seeing a clear water river. It’s such a great place for meditation. Thanks to Sarang, I got the opportunity to do little temple seva, I got to clean three windows. I was very happy and excited. I got to be near Shri Hari for some more time. I was thinking in my mind, plz hire me for this job, I can do this daily for the rest of my life. I just want to be near Shri Hari 🙏 later during arti and Swamiji’s discourse, my eyes went to one of the windows, and I thought, I cleaned these today, I was beaming with happiness 😊
Swamiji had asked me to read one of his books during personal meeting, so I bought some books from Book shop in the morning, requested to get it signed by Swamiji. I was told to collect it in the evening or next day morning. I said next day morning I was leaving at 9 am so they said to collect it in the evening. The whole day went by so swiftly. I met so many kind and loving and wonderful people. During evening arti, it hit me that, that was the last time I would be singing arti of Shri Hari and seeing him from so close and tears started rolling, before I knew I was crying inconsolably. I didn’t want to leave, but then temple closed so I had to. I had to pick up my signed books but I couldn’t get up from there as I wanted to be with Shri Hari for as long as I could. I troubled a lot of people because of this. As soon as I got out of temple, Maina ji introduced me to Swamiji’s sister, I had somehow managed to stop crying but when I heard Swamiji’s name, I started crying again, I tried to say something but couldn’t speak properly and I said sorry to her, she said it’s ok, and she went. Naina ji tried to console me, but then many people go through this, so they are used to this. I was missing Swamiji and Shri Hari already. Many of my friends Sarang, Dev ji, Sachin ji came to our room, they chatted for long time. And when I heard their stories about Swamiji and ashram, for an hour or more, I felt better. I was laughing with them, then lot more people joined, we got chairs from other rooms for everyone to sit. I got the opportunity to make tea for them, thanks to Naina ji. I don’t know how was the tea, but I was just happy to be around such wonderful people. I thought it was like we were a family of devotees. They sang Bhajan, Meera ji initiated it. She sang so beautifully. Lot more songs came and I felt my heart and mind opening again. After sometime they left. Next morning, I decided I have to attend Vishnu sahastranamam on time, because that was my last day in Ashram. And luckily I did, it was colder than usual, but I got up early, took bath, got ready and ran, this was my third day so I was not hunting Shri Hari anymore, I knew where he was, so I reached on time, before time actually. I took blessings from Swamiji’s paduka, and Shri Hari. Attended Vishnu sahastranamam, I was not crying anymore. I was unusually happy, because I felt like Shri Hari and Swamiji were with me always. I had breakfast with my new family members, managed to get my books, got a bit scolded, for not picking them up the previous day. How could I tell Rajiv ji, that I was busy crying in the temple and trying to stop it but not able to, so I took his scolding with a pinch of salt. It was my fault after all. He was kind enough to give my books though and I was grateful. Once I got ready I realised, I bought one more book which I could pick up at 9:30 am, I asked Sarang to pick it up for me, and the kind person that he is, he did. I m grateful to him too. From the moment I met him, he was guiding me through out my stay in Ashram and the schedule. I felt later like Shri Hari and Swamiji sent him to help me otherwise I would have been lost there without knowing what to do, when to do and how to do. Naina ji helped me so much too. So many of my these new family members came to see me off, I couldn’t believe it. I managed to say bye to Shri Hari before leaving, I wanted to see Swamiji too, but I knew he wouldn’t come in the morning but just then I got a flower from one of the new friends, and he said ‘this is from the mala of Swamiji (or Shri Hari)’ and that he got that just then from the mala. The fact that out of all the people standing there, he felt like giving it to me first, was emotional again because it came from Shri Hari/Swamiji, but I didn’t cry. I m writing both their names because I remember it to be from Shri Hari but later I was told in cab that the flower was from Swamiji’s mala. They are the same to me now, so 😊 As I said I know Swamiji is with me always. I was very happy. I had three of new friends with me to share cab, so I wasn’t alone. Whole trip to airport went smoothly. But once I reached airport, it hit again, that I was leaving Ashram, Swamiji, Shri Hari and all my friends behind. I was telling in my mind, last chance to turn back. Call Manoj ji again and go back to Ashram but I couldn’t, my son was waiting for me back at home. I started singing Shri Hari’s arti and Guru paduka stotram (only two lines that I know, that too not completely, but bhavnaon ko samjho! ) I was like in some other world, my world that I had found newly. I felt so calm, peaceful and content. I was not scared throughout my journey back to Bangalore. After reaching Bangalore airport, waiting at the exit for my pick up, I was singing arti exactly at the time of arti time in Shri Hari temple, then I watched arti by Swamiji on YouTube. It all worked out. Now chilling from two days with my son. Thought of writing this blog for sharing my experience.
Thank you for your patience for reading this, if you did manage to 😁
Grateful to Shri Hari, Swamiji, Nature, Ashram staff, volunteers, my new family members 🙏🙏🙏
Jai Shri Hari 🙏